VA Hospital Pays Nearly $1M Settlement for Wrongful Death

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January 29, 2015 — The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) has agreed to pay nearly $1 million to settle a malpractice lawsuit filed by the family of a man who died of melanoma.

The lawsuit was filed on behalf of Cliff Douglas, a man from Issaquah, Washington who served in the Army after the Vietnam War. He was diagnosed with melanoma in May 2011. At the time, he was taking a medication for a liver transplant that increased his risk of cancer.

A scheduler at the VA was supposed to refer him for surgery, but failed to make the call. The cancer spread for three months until Douglas made his own appointment at the University of Washington. He died of melanoma in late 2012.

It is believed to be the largest payout for a wrongful death claim at the VA Puget Sound since 2001, according to the News Tribune.

Since 2001, VA Puget Sound has paid out more than $15 million in malpractice claims on behalf of 16 veterans who died, and 33 more who suffered preventable “major” injuries, according to KIRO TV.

VA Puget Sound also paid an $800,000 settlement to the family of Stephen Vincler, a man who served in Vietnam as a Marine. He died from gastric bleeding after a routine surgery at the VA hospital in Beacon Hill, Seattle. Before his death, the 63 year-old man complained of severe abdominal pain and his family specifically asked if internal bleeding could be to blame.

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